Grandson ‘Disgusted’ With Man Who Shot Ralph Yarl

Klint Ludwig said his grandfather Andrew Lester, who pleaded not guilty in the case, had fallen down a "right-wing rabbit hole" in recent years.

A grandson of the Missouri man who shot 16-year-old Ralph Yarl for mistakenly ringing his doorbell said on Thursday that he is “disgusted” by his grandfather’s actions.

“I was disgusted. I thought it was terrible,” Klint Ludwig told CNN’s Don Lemon. “Myself and my family stand with Ralph Yarl in seeking justice. This is a horrible tragedy, never should have happened.”

Yarl had gone to pick up his younger brothers from a house in Kansas City, Missouri, on the evening of April 13, but mistakenly went to the wrong address. The Black teenager rang the doorbell, only for 84-year-old Andrew Lester to shoot a revolver through the glass front door. Yarl was hit in the head and the upper right arm. He miraculously survived the encounter.

The teen was released from the hospital over the weekend, and is recovering at home with his family. Lester, who is white, has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of first-degree assault and armed criminal action, and he is currently free on bond. His next court appearance is June 1.

“Ralph Yarl did nothing wrong by showing up at the wrong house, which is an honest, easy mistake,” Ludwig told The Kansas City Star. “And the fact that it was almost a death sentence is disgusting.”

Ludwig said that over the past several years, he and his grandfather lost touch largely due to Lester falling down “the right-wing rabbit hole,” according to the Star. Lester engages in a “24-hour news cycle of fear and paranoia,” fueled by conservative networks like Fox News and OAN, that “reinforces and galvanizes racist people and their beliefs,” his grandson said.

“And then the NRA pushing the ‘stand your ground’ stuff and that you have to defend your home,” Ludwig told the Star. “When I heard what happened, I was appalled and shocked that it transpired, but I didn’t disbelieve that it was true.”

Lester also followed “QAnon-level conspiracies” about abortion and supposed election fraud, and appeared to believe in COVID-19 disinformation and racist stereotypes about Black people. According to Ludwig, “the warning signs were there.”

While Yarl’s physical health is improving, the teen’s family says he is still struggling emotionally and mentally. Friends and family of the high school junior have described him as academically talented and musically gifted.

“I’m proud of you, Ralph. I’m so sorry this happened to you,” Ludwig said on CNN. “I understand you’re an amazing kid and I think you’re going to grow up to be an amazing man. You didn’t do anything wrong. The outpouring of support that the country has shown to you, I think, says more than I ever could say.”

“Ralph, you don’t deserve to have your life fundamentally changed like you had it,” Ludwig said. “You deserve justice ― and my family stands with you.”

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